Lenni Reviews: “Levius/Est” Vol. 2 by Haruhisa Nakata

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Levius is advancing in the ranks, facing tougher opponents the likes of Natalia; bringing in the notion of these mechanized warriors so dedicated to their battles, they will even fight unconscious. But as Levius nears his dream, another fighter named Kingsley tempts Levius with information about the father who abandoned Levius and his comatose mother.

It’s awesome to read about the mindset of the fighters and what victory means to each of them as they put their lives on the line. And it’s cool to see so much time spent on the fights. They are well-drawn and detailed so your eyes don’t get lost so you can keep track of what’s happening. I’m looking forward to seeing Levius face down someone so powerful who also knew his father. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Levius/Est” Vol. 1 by Haruhisa Nakata

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After a terrible war, the world has entered the Era of Rebirth; which has brought with it a combat tournament spectacle starring cybernetically altered fighters. One of these fighters, Levius, is determined to rise amongst the ranks and become the greatest fighter of all while discovering secrets about his past along the way.

The art and the world-building are top-notch in this volume. The battle scenes are fantastic as well. You are left wanting Levius to succeed but there is a real present danger to his chosen line of work and as a protagonist, Levius isn’t much of a talker. The mystery about why he fights will be revealed in subsequent volumes. This is very much like a steampunk Battle Angel Alita, and that’s praise coming from me. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “The Drifting Classroom: Perfect Edition” Vol. 1 by Kazuo Umezz

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Inexplicably, an entire school is thrown into the future along with everyone inside. Sho, his teachers, and his classmates must fight to survive in a deserted wasteland.

Yeah, this book gets Lord of the Flies real quick. It’s like nobody even tried to put up the pretense of acting sane and this book doesn’t hold back on the gore and tragedy. It’s pretty depressing. But it’s also very compelling. I will give a mild spoiler and say this is NOT the book for you if you don’t like reading about a lot of dead kids. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “I Know What I Am: The Life and Times of Artemisia Gentileschi” by Gina Siciliano

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Set in Rome in the 1600’s, this graphic novel details the life of painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

This is all pretty damn impressive if even half of what is here is over dramatized. If you’re into history – particularly art history – I think you’ll get more out of this that I did despite enjoying the book. There’s so many historical details, even quotes from cited sources, that I feel like it was written more for people who have more of a personal investment in art history. As it stands to me, I may have checked out and had to restart some parts because of just being presented with a glut of information, but I enjoyed it! 3.8 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” vol 2 by Paru Itagaki

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

When the onstage conflict during the school play becomes too real, Legoshi struggles with his carnivore instincts as Bill, a tiger, tempts him to slip.

This volume goes back and forth as to how serious it is, which I actually like! Given the set up of predator and prey trying to coexist in peace could be all about the angst and pain but it’s just dark enough to be intriguing and provide consequences for actions but enough levity to keep it enjoyable. I give this series a lot of credit for succeeding in this balancing act so far. Highly creative and compelling even though some of the sketchy art can be a little confusing sometimes. 4.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: Whenever Our Eyes Meet…: A Women’s Love Anthology” by ASCII Media Works

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This is a collection of fourteen short stories about women in live in different types of relationships from an artist with a crush on her subject to a high school puppy love getting a second chance when they’re grown up.

While well done overall with pretty art, all the stories are SUPER short. But that’s to be expected when you get 180 pages to tell fourteen different stories. Gotta make you point quick then move on to the next one.

My favorite of them would be “Everyone’s Missing Out.” by Irua. Not many romance stories – much less LGBT ones – have characters over 30-40 years old. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of those.

Not a bad collection if you’re looking for some relatively clean, short, yuri to read. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Irena Book One: Wartime Ghetto” by Jean-David Morvan, Séverine Tréfouël & David Evrard

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic novel tells the story of Irena Sendlerowa, a social worker in the Warsaw ghetto in the early 1940’s who helped smuggle 2500 Jewish children out of the ghetto before getting captured and tortured by the Nazis.

While of course, this is not easy to read, it is an important story and I am glad to see it told. I’m not sure I would give this to a young person as it doesn’t flinch much from the horrors of the ghettos and Nazi torture but it’s still a great book. If I had a nitpick, it would be the ending. Spoilery but it shows her walking off into the light as if she died when she didn’t. She lived into her 90’s. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “No Ivy League” by Hazel Newlevant

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*This book has been given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Sheltered homeschooler Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forests in Portland, Oregon. At first, she’s just looking to make some quick cash for a concert but she finds her small world opened when interacting with more diverse kids.

I like this book because the main character isn’t a racist who comes around. Hazel has legitimately not interacted with anything other than other white, affluent, homeschooled kids and comes to realize there’s a bigger world out there. She has been given advantages others may not have and instead of being some White Savior or being riddled with White Guilt, she just makes friends and starts dancing. I respect that.

I do feel more needed to be done with her parents and their reasons for homeschooling Hazel. The mother does go into her backstory a bit but if systemic racism and white privilege are being addressed, more was needed with Hazel’s realization about why her mother chose this rather than a couple of panels and one trip to the library. But that’s just me. Overall, I enjoyed it. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Manfried Saves the Day” by Caitlin Major & Kelly Bastow

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Steve’s life has really turned around since the first book. He makes a living off his cartoons, he has a great girlfriend, and he’s finally happy. But when his girlfriend’s man shelter is in danger of being bought out, Steve may be stretching himself too thin trying to keep up with his deadlines and help Manfried compete in a man show to win prize money to save the man shelter.

Much like the first, this book is just too cute. You get the classic “raise money to save the *insert thing here*” plot but it’s refreshed by having tiny men as pets instead of cats. It may be a predictable plot but the adorable art makes this a worthwhile read. I absolutely enjoyed it. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Manfried the Man” by Caitlin Major & Kelly Bastow

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Steve works at a tech support call center and has very few friends as close as his pet man, Manfried. He wants to be a cartoonist but he hates his job and he’s one of the last single cats his age. But when he ends up fired and loses Manfried, he unintentionally goes viral in his search for his best friend.

I enjoyed this little switcharro where the cats are in the human’s position and visa versa. The idea of people as pets, without being dystopian horror, was a nice funny diversion. Unless you are particularly prudish and don’t wanna see a lot of cartoony naked men, this is an adorable little story. 3.9 out of 5.

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